Working alongside the modeling and simulations engineer.
1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
The placement has given me a fantastic insight into what a huge global company encompasses, and how it requires so many people working in harmony to achieve goals, particularly in battling times for the industry. Prior to the internship I had no similar experience to working for such a long time on a huge scale project. It is definitely a learning experience.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
My colleagues were all very welcoming, and the interns were immediately invited to join the tag rugby games on Friday lunchtimes! As the year progressed people began to come to me for help in investigative projects, as I became the expert using a particular model. This definitely helped me appreciate just how valued I was by my team.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
Most people in my team and office are approachable and there to offer help and guidance, and if someone is unable to help you, they are more than willing to help find you the appropriate contact within the team or company. Understandably managers have a lot more to deal with in terms of organizing teams and making decisions with a larger group of people, so it is often more appropriate to ask team members.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
How busy I was on a daily basis depended largely on personal motivation. The length of projects meant that it was hard to estimate a clear deadline for each piece of work, so it was a different kind of pressure to university deadlines! There was always work for me to be getting on with - so long as I remembered to set up simulations to run overnight(!).
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
The work I am doing will be used to help make decisions on new tool designs, which have large amounts of money invested into their development, implying the outcome of my work is quite important to get right! Occasionally I am asked to investigate something which will then go on to be presented to higher up the ladder, so I am responsible for producing accurate results and understanding exactly how these came about.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
The most advantageous skill I have learnt is using Matlab, which I will definitely be able to use further in projects beyond placement. Working with Matlab has broader implications as it teaches you the logical thought processes and problem solving techniques that run alongside coding. Being able to work with Matlab is undoubtedly a skill that numerous companies are looking for, and will hopefully help me on my way in the future.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The office is full of hardworking teams, who are communicative when they feel the need to be, however most of the time it provides a peaceful setting to work in. There is often cake brought in by colleagues which can brighten up any day, and results in little gatherings - a chance to have a slice and a chat before delving back onto our computers.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
From what I have gathered the work we intended to carry out for the following year had not been fully decided prior to our arrival. The work I am doing seems to not have been of highest priority, and hence there is not a clear timeline of when it needs to be completed by for others to use. The company has obviously had many interns previously so they were at ease setting up all our accounts in the first few days.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
Due to struggles within the industry there is less money available to spend on our development. This means opportunities to attend external courses and visit other sites is highly limited. Much of the training for Matlab is free online, and so this is where most of my work began in the first few months. It is slightly disappointing as it does not encourage me to come back if there are such restrictions.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Sports and Social Club
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
The company appears to have interesting graduate schemes - in particular one called a 'Tech and Field' scheme where you get to spend time in the field in a more practical job, before coming back to the office, with the aim of having more experience first hand of what your work is creating.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
There are only 3 interns at the company including myself - and we all live together. Luckily we get on very well! The site where we work is located between Cheltenham and Stroud, so people usually live in one of these two cities. The people living in our area are often keen to socialize, although maybe not in the same style as we did at university due to the age differences!
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
The area we work in is right by a small village which does not have much choice in terms of places to socialize. Additionally, many people drive to work and so it is not possible to have a 'post work drink' or even meal, as many would be resistant to drive home after. Where we live provided a greater variety of places to visit and eat and drink.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
There is no nightlife in the village where the office is, however in Cheltenham there are quite a few options of bars and clubs, often packed with hen parties and underage drinkers! It is not a student city so came as a slight shock from university life. It still provides a great night out - and what makes a good night is your friends more so than the venue.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Being a city meant there was lots on offer, from gyms to sports clubs, art to language classes. The surrounding areas of Cheltenham provide a stunning setting for walks, with lots of villages and history to explore. It definitely requires self motivation to find these activities and create your life outside of work.